Friday, November 25, 2005


Honey and Jim threw their annual Thanksgiving feast, and every year I always wish that my stomach could handle more food. It's always a nice coming together of the family, and this year our happy reunions were augmented by news of Nathalie and my recent marriage (and my offical entry into the family). Unfortunately, due to a pretty rough call night, I was at a sup-par functional level and in a zombie like state for most of the time that I was there, but everybody else joined me in their own food induced coma after eating, so my deviation from the norm wasn't very noticeable.

On the way back to New Orleans, Nathalie and I took a detour and drove through parts of New Orleans that suffered the worst of the storm and flooding. Parts of Lakeview and East New Orleans is still a ghost town, littered with flooded cars, debris, and skeletonized houses. A layer of dried mud and filth covers everything, and the water lines on the houses marking the level of flooding, along with the spray painted marks left by search and rescue teams, are a sobering reminder that I am one of the lucky few to have survived the storm without losing everything.

I got out of my car yesterday to take a picture, and immediately upon stepping out of the car I was overcome by a sadness. As I stood there amongst the rubble, a quiet sense of loneliness and vulnerability surrounded me, and grew eerily stronger. I've seen the damage on TV, seen the pictures, and even drove through this area before, but I never truly experienced the emotions that I felt yesterday. There's a difference from seeing something so devastating through TV or through a car window versus physically being in the area, walking those deserted streets, smelling the smells, and tasting the dust and despair that fills the neighborhoods.

I took my pictures, and retreated to the cocoon that was my car. I looked over at Nathalie, who had waited patiently in the car as I took some pictures, and reached for her hand. We sat quietly for a few minutes, each absorbed in our own thoughts, each thankful for what we've been able to survive.

Spray painted markings indicate Date of search (top) and Number of dead found inside (bottom). The water lines tell the story of how slowly the floodwaters receeded.